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Vitamin B12 and Folate Supplements Reduce Schizophrenia Symptoms

Vitamin B12 and Folate Supplements Reduce Schizophrenia Symptoms

If you are afflicted by schizophrenia you know that any supplement that reduces some of the debilitating symptoms of this disease is worth a try. A recent research study conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) offers hope for treating some symptoms of schizophrenia with folate and vitamin B12.

While prescription medications work well to treat positive symptoms including delusions, this study show us why vitamin B12 and folate supplements improve your negative symptoms, like emotional withdrawal.

Negative vs. positive symptoms

Delusions and hallucinations may not be good, but they’re called the positive symptoms of schizophrenia. While positive psychotic symptoms distort your thinking and normal perception, they are treatable with antipsychotic pharmaceutical medications. On the other hand, negative symptoms are not necessarily bad, but they are more difficult to treat. Negative symptoms are referred to as negative because they explain a deficit rather than a presence of symptoms. You may already recognize some of the negative symptoms when you withdraw from others, experience a lack interest in activities or people, or don’t express your emotions. The Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) study focuses on reducing these negative symptoms.

How a prior study opened the door for further studies

A prior study of 100 patients in 2011 gives us hope for improving negative symptoms with folate and Vitamin B12. Along with their regular antipsychotic medication, 100 patients were given folate and vitamin B12 supplements. All of the patients experienced modest improvement; however, some of the patients showed very significant improvement. This is exceptionally good news for you, especially if you have the specific gene variation called MTHFR, or three other variants. The study opened the door for more research by illustrating the need for personal treatment options.

Findings of the MGH study

All 140 participants of the MGH study took antipsychotic drugs along with a daily dose of a placebo, or folate and vitamin B12 for 16 weeks. Scientists analyzed blood samples periodically to account for folate levels, and to detect gene variants. Overall, the participants in the folate and B12 group did not show a statistically significant improvement compared with the group taking the placebo. However, the participants that started the study with lower folate levels tended to also have the low-function FOLH1 variant.  By the end of the study, patients with low-function FOLH1 saw improvement of their folate levels. The study shows us that it would take more than 16 weeks to see improvements in negative symptoms. Research scientists of this study agree that larger case studies for longer periods of time, and with greater numbers of participants are necessary for further investigation.

Room for improvement with supplements

It is important to realize that your intense negative symptoms may be due to a genetic folate deficiency. When folate levels in the blood become low, you may experience more severe negative symptoms. This essential nutrient is lower in people with a variation called MTHFR on a gene named FOLH-1. Vitamin B12 helps your body absorb and magnify folate, which is why researchers administer B12 alongside folate. Realizing the role folate and vitamin B12  plays on schizophrenia will help you receive more individualized care. While researchers conduct more studies, it’s reassuring to know that folate and vitamin B12 are safe supplements for you to take.

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